Top 10 Things to Pack in Your Hold Baggage


Today I offer to you my Top 10 List of thing to pack in your hold baggage on your OCONUS PCS.

This list is based on our experience arriving in Germany this month, moving into our apartment here, and receiving our hold baggage shipment.

Are there items you’d add to this list? Please leave a comment to share your advice with our readers!

The Top 10 Things to Pack in Hold Baggage on an OCONUS PCS

1. Pillows

Packing your own pillows will be a comfort and a money-saver!

2. Bedding

Sheets and blankets are expensive to repurchase. Save your money for a European day trip or dinner out by packing basic sheets and blankets into your hold baggage.

3. Shower Curtain, Curtain Hooks & Bath Mats

I recommend packing your shower liner, shower curtains, curtain hooks, and bath mats into your hold baggage rather than packing them into your household goods. You’ll have your bathroom items ready to set up in your new home right away, and you’ll also have them until just before you leave your old duty station. All-around, this will make your life just a little bit easier.

4. Hangers

Such a simple thing to pack, and yet we didn’t think of it.

5. Bicycles

It can take weeks for your vehicle to arrive at your new duty station on an OCONUS PCS, and your duty station’s on-post shuttles may have limited evening and weekend schedules. We packed our bicycles in our hold baggage, and we’re glad we did. The arrived on Friday, and beginning Monday, they’ll be our primary transportation for a while.

6. Wireless Router

You’re in a new town, on a new post, and maybe even in a new country. WiFi will allow your family to have access to the information they’re looking for on local events, transportation, and services, and it’ll also let you, your spouse, and your kids stay in better touch (via email, Facebook, etc.) with friends and family. That continuity is healthy, and it’s an easy thing to offer at a time when other forms of stability may not be within your control to provide to your family.

7. Extra Clothes/Jackets

While extra layers of clothes might take up too much space in your checked airline bags, you may want them when you arrive at your duty station. Rain jackets, sweatshirts, long-sleeved t-shirts and other layers of clothes can come in handy when you arrive in Europe.

8. Towels

You’ll be glad to have kitchen and bathroom towels for your new place while you’re waiting for your larger household goods shipment to arrive. In addition, if you use the fitness center on your new post, bear in mind that the sequestration has resulted in discontinued towel service. That means that you’ll need to bring your own towels to the gym, the locker room, or the pool.

9. Military Gear

Your service member will want to pack any military gear he or she might need in the first few weeks on the new duty station. My husband carried two uniforms, boots, and a few other military items with us on the plane, but had an entire foot locker in our hold baggage. His extra gear, boots, uniform parts, and PT clothes were inside that foot locker so that he had them soon after we arrived in Germany.

10. A Few Special Surprises

This may sound completely ridiculous, I know. But here’s the thing: You and your family have lived out of suitcases and duffel bags for however long you spent on leave and/or PCSing to your new duty station. You’ve worn the same clothes, shoes and accessories over and over again. Your kids have had the same few toys to play with, and you’ve slept in the same worn out t-shirt every night. By the time your hold baggage arrives, you’ll be ready for a little touch of home.

What I’m about to tell you is a personal touch that I will use on our future moves – especially once we have kids. In the future, I will pack something into our household goods shipment that’s special or fun to receive when we arrive at the next duty station. My favorite afghan for cuddling beneath while I read, an extra pair of jeans, a pretty scarf, a few framed photographs. In short, things that will make our new place feel little more like home.

This would be a great approach with kids, too. You can pack away a few favorite toys, games, PJs, blankets, or other goodies that they’ll have as a special surprise when the hold baggage arrives.

It’s no secret that PCSing is an emotional roller coaster at moments, so if packing a few special surprises into your hold baggage gives you and your family something fun to look forward to, do it. When you PCS, there are a thousand things that will be out of your control, so it’ll feel good to know that you’ve made the most of the few things that are within it.

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  1. Great list! I hope that one day I can refer back to this for my life. 🙂

  2. Packing bikes in UB is a great idea. I hadn’t thought of that. We skipped UB both when we PCSed to and from Germany. We heard horror stories of it taking longer than your main HHG shipment during the height of PCS season. We decided not to risk it. But if we had some UB, I would have packed my nail polish. I know that sounds lame, but it’s one of those things that makes me feel like me, and it made me feel a little bit more at home once I got it.

    • Amy, what a small thing, but so true! For some reason, my nails are really brittle post-PCS, and I packed my good (O.P.I.) nail strengthening polish in our household goods. I *so* wish I had that now. #itsthelittlethings

  3. Pingback: 5 Types of OCONUS PCS Shipments & What to Pack in Each - MilliGFunk

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